WASHINGTON (Sept. 20, 2016) – The R Street Institute responded to this morning’s release of guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles. The following statement can be attributed to R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams:

Today’s guidelines, while imperfect, should be commended for their openness to regulatory flexibility, including exemptions from outdated regulatory standards and fast-tracked letters of legal interpretation. These will both prove invaluable tools as the creators of autonomous technologies seek to conform to a body of law drafted and adopted without self-driving vehicles in mind.

The guidelines also clearly demarcate areas of responsibility best left to the federal government and those best left to the states. Notably, the guidelines recommend that the current state-based system of insurance regulation remain untouched. As a result, states that embrace a market-oriented approach to ratemaking and product development will be particularly well-positioned to capitalize on new technologies.

However, the guidelines do also present some areas of concern, particularly their recommendation that NHTSA be granted authority to conduct pre-market approval of new technologies. Not only would that depart from existing practice that has served consumers admirably, but it also effectively would grant the federal government a veto over new technology.

The R Street Institute will continue to examine and evaluate these guidelines in the coming days and weeks and looks forward to playing a collaborative and constructive role in the public-policy discussion to come.


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